Hands-On

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Hands-on Review

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When Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Mix last year, it was the first of its kind. A phone with a front panel that was all screen, no buttons, no sensors, no ear piece — just display from corner to corner.

Xiaomi called it a concept phone, their vision of what the smartphone of the future looked like. In the succeeding months, rival smartphone brands followed suit, LG with its G6, Samsung’s entire flagship line, up-and-comer Essential with its PH-1, and most likely Apple’s next iPhone also.


Earlier in Beijing, Xiaomi unveiled the phone’s successor, the Mi Mix 2 — learning from their concept phone and turning it into a device that everyone can use.

The sequel looks just like a smaller version of the original but with several refinements; now with a 6-inch display (instead of 6.4 inches), rounded corners, and a new 18:9 aspect ratio that makes it narrower and easier to grip. The size adjustment fixes one of our biggest complaints about the first Mix: It was big, unwieldy, and impossible to use comfortably with one hand.

Mi Mix (left), Mi Mix 2 (right)

Both phones look like they were cut from the same cloth. In terms of build materials, the Mix 2 has the same aluminum frame and glossy ceramic back. Xiaomi is also shipping a special edition model that’s made from a single block of ceramic. While we imagine this to be very delicate, the white model in particular is stunning. Xiaomi describes it as a “perfect piece of jade from heaven.”

On the phone’s front panel right above the display, Xiaomi added an earpiece, something it took away last year in lieu of technology that sent sound waves through the display. It was a cool feature that didn’t quite match the call quality of actual speakers, so we’re glad to see the traditional earpiece back.

The bottom chin carries the selfie camera. While Xiaomi’s done good by further reducing the size of the chin, bringing the phone close to its its bezel-free promise, the selfie camera is still in the same sore spot.

For best results, we recommend flipping the phone upside down while taking selfies, the camera app will adjust, except on third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

The Mix 2’s back side is pristine with only the main camera and its circular gold accents breaking up the monotony. Beneath the camera is a fingerprint sensor; quick, reliable, and now because of its smaller form factor, easily reachable even with smaller fingers.

The only physical buttons on the device are the volume rocker and power button on its right side. It’s got a dual nano-SIM card tray on the left, with no provisions for expandable memory. You’re stuck with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB built-in storage options. On its bottom are speakers and a USB-C charging port. Also missing is a headphone jack. Xiaomi ships an adapter in the box, but unlike the rest of its phones, it skips on bundled headphones, as well.

As great as the phone looks on the outside, its insides too live up to the leadership role the Mix 2 espouses. The flagship is powered by a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM. In the time we spent with the phone, we found the user interface snappy and responsive. Games ran fine, and multitasking was hiccup-free. The phone runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box with Xiaomi’s new MiUI 9 skin.

In the day we used the phone around Beijing, the Mix 2 powered through, not needing a top-up. But we want to put its 3400mAh battery through a more rigorous test for our full review. One thing we can vouch for now are quick top-ups thanks to Quick Charge 3.0 support.

Unlike the dual-camera-touting Mi 6, the Mix 2 only has one main 12-megapixel camera. Performance was pretty standard, apart from a bit of processing lag when taking HDR photos. Photo quality was great across all lighting conditions. Check our gallery below:

You’ll also find that low-light performance has been significantly improved from the Mix to the Mix 2.

 

Night shots are now very good, thanks in part to the phone’s 4-axis stabilization, which also did a decent job even from a rickety rickshaw (check out our video review for the footage).

Is the Mi Mix 2 your GadgetMatch?

We’ll reserve judgement until we’ve had the time for a full review, but in the limited time we’ve used the phone, it’s safe to say there’s no denying the Mi Mix 2 is a great phone.

What sets the phone apart is its price tag, starting at about CNY 3,299, which comes to around US$ 500. That makes the Mix 2 significantly cheaper than any other bezel-less smartphone from 2017.

On top of that, the phone supports an unprecedented 43 bands, meaning it should theoretically work with the most number of cell networks in the world. The phone was clearly designed to appeal to a broader global market, in keeping with its image of not being just a concept anymore, but a phone for everyone.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Special Edition comes in full ceramic body
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Hands-On

OPPO A9 2020 Hands-On: Massive and Playful

For every kind of junkie

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OPPO recently streamlined its smartphone lineup. From Find and Reno, OPPO introduces us to the newest A series. On paper, it seems the A-series is a combination of the F-series and former A-series. Sitting in a sweet spot between an affordable price range and incredible performance, the OPPO A9 2020 is shaping up to be a contender in a sea of smartphones fighting for the crown in the midrange category.

With Xiaomi and Huawei firmly in the lead, can OPPO put up a fight just like it did with its F series? Let’s find out in this Hands-On!


Starting with looks, the OPPO A9 2020 gives in to a premium-like design

It has a dedicated fingerprint scanner and a quad-camera setup on its rear

You can find the power button here…

…While the left side houses the volume keys and sim card slot

Its top is clear, but its bottom shows-off its speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port

It has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a waterdrop notch for the front camera

The OPPO A9 2020 prides itself with its new design that took inspiration from its R-series. In addition, OPPO focused on the phone’s display, reinforcing its IPS LCD screen with a Toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3+.

Moreover, its screen has new features such as the Sunlight Screen which allows you to adjust the contrast so you can read the screen, even under strong direct light. It also has a Blue Shield which filters out blue light, relieving your eyes from fatigue and strain and protecting your eyesight.

Going big and definitely not going home

Sporting a Snapdragon 665 chipset along with an 8GB RAM, 128GB storage (which you can expand up to 256GB of external memory), the A9 2020 really joined the battle of offering power to midrange devices. OPPO decides to make everything flashy and… big.

For instance, it boasts a humongous 5000mAh battery that can last you throughout the day. Furthermore, it’s capable of reverse wireless charging (through OTG) so your friends can rely on you when their phones run out of battery.

Gamers will find delight with the A9 2020. Thanks to Game Boost 2.0, OPPO’s accelerator technology aims to resolve latency, reduce touchscreen lag, and optimizing energy consumption to avoid overheating.

OPPO decided to up their game for entertainment junkies, too! Packed with Dual Stereo Speakers and Dolby Atmos sound effects, expect a superb, immersive audio experience.

Smarter, smoother

The A9 2020 runs on ColorOS 6 based on Android 9.0. Now, its interface is cleaner and smoother. Icons look cute with their subtle gradient tones.

It also comes with smart functions like Smart Assistant, Riding Mode — which lets you remain uninterrupted by notifications and incoming calls — and a Music party app which lets multiple phones connect in the same LAN through a Wi-Fi hotspot for synchronized listening.

Navigating the phone is now easier with a single hand, too. Through Gesture Navigation, you can return to the home screen, check out recent tasks, switch pages and applications by just swiping up, left, and right.

Cameras for all angles and scenarios

The OPPO A9 2020 shows off its highly versatile camera setup. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel portrait lens, and a 2-megapixel mono lens on its rear.

On its front is a 16-megapixel camera with AI Beautification technology which automatically identifies your skin tone, age, gender, and skin color for customized beautification, giving you a pretty yet make-up free look.

More features include artistic portrait styles, ultra night mode, and 4K video shooting. More sample photos here:

Is the OPPO A9 2020 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re into massive and chunky smartphones with a solid build, the OPPO A9 2020 might be a good match. It offers power and performance for gamers and entertainment junkies, and its smartphone has a versatile camera setup to appease your needs. While there may be Xiaomi and Huawei leading the midrange category, OPPO definitely cooked up a powerful yet affordable phone that can go toe-to-toe with its rivals.

The OPPO A9 2020 is available in two colors: Space Purple and Marine Green. Its retail price is PhP 15,990 and will be available for pre-order starting September 20 until September 27 in Lazada, and through OPPO stores, authorized dealers, and e-commerce partner sites like Shopee, Akulaku, and Argomall on September 28.

For those who want to avail through Home Credit, customers can pre-order the A9 2020 starting September 20 with flexible payment terms of six and nine months with a guaranteed zero percent interest.

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Hands-On

Nokia 3.2 Hands-On: Basic but classy

Nothing fancy but really speedy

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Nokia has been stepping up its lineup of budget smartphones. Early in 2019, the brand launched a plethora of budget smartphones that are under the Android One program. One of the budget-friendly smartphones introduced was Nokia 3.2. Eager to have that Nokia experience, I took the phone out for a spin.

It’s cheap… but classy

I had high hopes when I first got the Nokia 3.2 in its box. Seeing it earlier in MWC 2019 made me appreciate its look and vibe. Compared to other budget smartphones, it’s classier and sexier. However, the phone feels a little bit downgraded when compared to its predecessor.


Nokia the 3.1 with an aluminum frame, a plastic back, and corning gorilla glass while the 3.2 used only a polycarbonate unibody design. Its plastic back is smudgy and slippery, but the phone has a tighter grip, thanks to its subtle curved edges towards the front.

Even its buttons are subtly protruding on its sides. On the left is a dedicated Google Assistant button, and on the right are its power buttons and volume keys.

Found on its back are the 13-megapixel main camera, LED Flash, and fingerprint scanner. On the other hand, its top side features a headphone jack, while the micro USB port and speaker grilles are found on the bottom.

If the notch is troubling you, try hiding it with a wallpaper similar to what I did in the image above.

It also features a 6.2 inches LCD panel on its front display, with a tall 19:9 ratio. It might be disrupting, but the Nokia 3.2 still sports a small notch, housing its 5-megapixel selfie camera capable of AI face unlock. Even though it might be bigger and taller this time, the Nokia 3.2 is definitely a joy to hold.

Stock Android on a budget

The saving grace for Nokia’s disappointing build (at least for me) is its clean version of Android One. That means there’s no bloatware to take up your limited memory and storage.

Additionally, the Nokia 3.2 comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box. This makes it feel faster than its competitors in the budget segment despite having a 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Fortunately, it provides a microSD card slot up to up to 400GB of storage.

An entry-level performance

Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 429 processor, the Nokia 3.2 performs better compared to its predecessor which carried a MediaTek chipset. In addition, its GPU runs on Adreno 504.

This made the Nokia 3.2 handle graphic-intensive games like Mobile Legends even if it was set on the highest graphics setting possible. There were no delay and lag spikes, ensuring smooth gameplay all throughout.

Decent cameras for your everyday needs

Featuring a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture, the Nokia 3.2 takes decent photos. Depending on the lighting, both of its cameras can either take a vibrant, lively reproduced color during daylight or a slightly desaturated photo on indoor and low-light conditions.

Of course, we can’t really expect budget smartphones to have flagship-like cameras. It won’t have quick auto-focus or any fancy features like blurring your background, but it’s the compromise we’re getting when we follow our tight budget. At the very least, make use of natural light and other camera tricks to improve your photos.

Lasts longer than your partner

If there’s one thing I enjoyed with this smartphone, it’s the humongous battery. Packing a 4000mAh battery, the Nokia 3.2 can definitely last a day on a single charge. It can handle your multimedia use and everyday tasks throughout the day, yet it will still have enough juice left to carry you through the night.

However, for a phone carrying a huge battery, it charges slowly at 10W. This phone might just be good for those who love to charge their phones overnight.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Nokia 3.2 is a contender in the budget segment. It might have a disappointing build and design, but the phone packs with power, performance, and speed, thanks to Google’s Android One program.

With a starting price of PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) for the 3GB/32GB model, Nokia loyalists will find this a real treat. For people looking for a secondary phone, or a primary phone with no frills and just functions to handle your everyday needs, the Nokia 3.2 could be your GadgetMatch.

However, there are still far better options in the budget category, like the Redmi Note 7 and Realme 3. If Nokia wants to come back in its former glory and capture people looking for an affordable powerhouse, they need to join the battle and beat Realme and Redmi in their game, just like Samsung bending over to compete in the tough budget battlefield.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Fold Hands-on: The Redo!

Refined and ready for release

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This is our Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on! We revisit Samsung’s foldable phone as it relaunches and check out what’s new!

More on the Samsung Galaxy Fold: Global Availability | How Samsung Fixed it | A more affordable Galaxy Fold?


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